Designed by Gilroy Roberts and Frank Gasparro, the Kennedy Half initially had a composition of 90% silver an 10% copper but shortly after it would eventually have a composition of 75% copper & 25% nickel.
The obverse, designed by Gilroy Roberts, features a portrait of John F. Kennedy facing left with the inscription LIBERTY on the outer periphery above the portrait. Just below bust is the motto IN GOD WE TRUST. Beginning in 1968, obverse mint marks S & D (San Francisco & Denver) were added. Philadelphia issues eventually would carry a P mint mark from 1980 onward.
The reverse, designed by Frank Gasparro, features the Presidential Seal. On the outer periphery are the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and HALF DOLLAR. For 1964 Denver only issues, a mint mark of D can be found just below the left claw of the eagle. Mint marks were moved to the obverse beginning in 1968.
Types and Varieties
Type 1 – Silver Composition
- Variety 1: 1964, 90% Silver 10% Copper, weight 12.5 grams (0.3619 ounces of silver)
- Variety 2: 1965 to 1970, Outer layer 80% silver, 20% copper. Inner core 20% silver, 80% copper (composition is known as silver clad), weight 11.5 grams (0.14792 ounces of silver)
Type 2 – Copper Nickel Composition:
- 1971 to Present
- Composition known as copper clad
John F. Kennedy
The assassination of John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the United States, took place on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, Texas, USA. John F. Kennedy was fatally wounded by gunshots while riding with his wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy in a Presidential motorcade.
The President's body was then brought back to the White House and placed in the East Room in a closed casket for 24 hours but was privately and briefly viewed during this time by the Kennedy family and some close friends. The Sunday following the assassination, his flag-draped closed casket was moved to the Capitol for public viewing. Throughout the day and night, hundreds of thousands lined up to view the guarded casket.
Representatives from over 90 countries, including the Soviet Union, attended the funeral on November 25 (which was his son's third birthday). After the service, the casket was taken by caisson to Arlington National Cemetery for burial.
Shortly after the tragedy of President Kennedy's death on November 27, 1963 Mint Director Miss Eva Adams announced that President Kennedy would be honored on the Half Dollar.
In the meantime, however, there was a legal hurdle to overcome: Under existing law, U. S. coin designs could not be changed more often than every 25 years; the Franklin half was then only 15 years old, and its replacement would quite literally require an act of Congress. Partisan disputes were largely set aside in recognition of the nation's and the world's loss, and Congress managed to pass legislation permitting a change in the half dollar's design with only a few weeks' debate. The Act of December 30, 1963 made the Kennedy half dollar a reality.
General Market Notes
Coins are plentiful and affordable to collectors in all grades.